West Coast League Top 10 Prospects
Same teams, different result. After sweeping the Kelowna Falcons in the East divisional series, the Wenatchee AppleSox faced off in a rematch of last summer's championship series with the Corvallis Knights. This time, the AppleSox were victorious. Wenatchee swept Corvallis to capture its third WCL title in five years. Wenatchee's pitching staff was brilliant in the playoffs, allowing just six runs over the four games, and the AppleSox defeated the Knights by scores of 4-1 and 4-2. Corvallis had the best regular season record at 38-10 and Wenatchee was second best at 34-14.
1. Andrew Susac, c, Corvallis (Fr., Oregon State)
As one of the youngest players in the league, Susac showed the tools that made him one of Baseball America's Top 200 prospects heading into this year's draft. Signability questions caused him to slip until the 16th round on draft day, when the Phillies took a chance on him, but he'll head back to Corvallis in the fall and will suit up for Oregon State. The reports on him this summer lined up with what was said about him in the spring. He's a great defender who is still trying to figure it out offensively. Susac has good athletic ability behind the plate, received and handled his pitching staff well and showed off above-average arm strength. He was over-aggressive at the plate and hit .202/.288/.317 in 104 at-bats, but he has a strong, 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame and hit two home runs this summer. If he can improve his timing, he could develop into a good home run hitter.
2. Matt Andriese, rhp, Corvallis, (So., UC Riverside)
Andriese came to the loaded Corvallis team after going 5-4, 3.93 with 37 strikeouts and 20 walks over 66 innings as a freshman at UC Riverside. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound righthander carved up the WCL, going 5-0 with a league-leading 0.78 ERA. He struck out 40 and walked just six in 46 innings. Andriese sat at 88-93 mph with his fastball and also mixed in a good splitter and a quality slider. He keeps everything down in the zone, and just two of his 31 hits allowed went for extra bases. Andriese has a good mound presence, and hitters rarely looked comfortable against him this summer.
3. Taylor Ard, 1b, Corvallis (So., Oregon State)
Despite hitting .496/.581/.848 over 125 at-bats with wood as a freshman at Mount Hood (Ore.) CC last year, Ard was passed over by all 30 teams in the draft. His performance this summer with Corvallis made them realize it was probably a mistake, as scouts and coaches acknowledged he was a different animal. During the spring, Ard's statistics looked good, but he was using a soft, inside-out approach and essentially guiding the bat to the ball. This summer, he always took big, aggressive swings, and the approach paid off. He led the league in batting, hitting .387/.489/.595 over 111 at-bats with 11 doubles and four home runs. His hit tool is a tick below-average, but his raw power grades out in the 60-70 range, as a few balls he hit this summer traveled nearly 500 feet. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Ard has a baby face and is still maturing as a man. When he transfers to Oregon State next year, he could lose 25 pounds of fat and add 15 pounds of muscle, which would really make him a physical specimen.
4. Bobby Crocker, of, Bend (So., Cal Poly)
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Crocker is a gifted athlete who hit .323/.419/.488 as a freshman at Cal Poly, and the success carried over to the summer. Crocker hit .292/.356/.423 in 130 at-bats for the Elks with six doubles, one triple and three home runs. He struck out 35 times and drew just eight walks, but he also swiped seven bags in 10 attempts. Crocker has four tools that grade out as major league average or above, including speed and raw power that are both well above-average. His arm is his only below-average tool.
5. Jordan Leyland, 1b, Bend (So., UC Irvine)
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Leyland doesn't quite have Ard's raw power, but he profiles as a better hitter with more of a gap-to-gap approach. He'll still send balls out of the yard because of his size, and he hit .310/.370/.381 over 42 at-bats as a true freshman for UC Irvine this spring. With Bend, Leyland hit .327/.381/.456 with 11 doubles and two home runs. Despite his big size, Leyland is an average runner. Jordan's younger brother, Josh, is a catcher who signed with the Athletics as a 16th-round pick this year.
6. Chris Amezquita, 3b, Bellingham (So., Pepperdine)
Amezquita has been on the prospect map for a while. In high school, he was one of the top prep players in the country and played in many high-profile showcase events. A sprained elbow sidelined him for much of the spring, and he went undrafted out of high school, heading to UCLA. He saw limited playing time with the Bruins this spring, hitting. 259/.368/.431 in 58 at-bats. With Bellingham, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder hit .237/.370/.356. Amezquita is a good athlete and is loaded with tools, but they don't always show up with his laid-back approach. His power profiles as a future 60, but he may never hit enough to show it off. He doesn't have the range or actions to play shortstop, but he is a solid third baseman with an above-average arm when he wants to show it off. Amezquita is transferring to Pepperdine and will have to sit out in 2010.
7. Seth Harvey, rhp, Bellingham (Sr., Washington State)
Harvey looked good last year in the Alaska League, running his fastball up to 93 mph, but he had an inconsistent junior year and wasn't drafted until the 43rd round. The knock on the 6-foot-1, 210-pound righthander in the spring was that he relied too much on his fastball and rarely threw offspeed pitches. His fastball was still good this summer, sitting at 90-94 mph with the Bells, and pitching coach Kevin Matthews worked hard with Harvey on developing and trusting a slider. He gained confidence in the pitch and, while it moves move like a cutter, it still became a dirty offering for Harvey and gave hitters something else to think about instead of just sitting on his fastball. Harvey went 2-5, 3.29 with 32 strikeouts and 15 walks in 27 innings this summer.
8. Evan DeLuca, lhp, Wenatchee (SIGNED: Yankees)
DeLuca was drafted by the Yankees in the 44th round out of Immaculate High in Somerville, N.J. They followed his progress with Wenatchee in the West Coast League this summer, and it was described as up and down. One manager compared DeLuca to Nuke LaLoosh, the rookie from "Bull Durham," because DeLuca has tremendous arm strength but doesn't know where his pitches are going to end up. He ran his fastball up to 96 mph this summer. His breaking ball and changeup improved this summer, but they aren't yet quality pitches. Coaches said DeLuca would often have a rough first inning and then settle down a bit as the game went on. He was also described as a great kid with good work ethic. Over 13 innings this summer split between starting and relief work, the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder went 2-0, 11.37 with 10 strikeouts and 22 walks. He was committed to San Diego, but the Yankees signed him just before the deadline on Aug. 17 for $500,000.
9. Chris Casazza, 3b, Moses Lake (Jr., Tarleton State, Texas)
Casazza has big-time power and set a new WCL record with nine home runs this summer. He played shortstop out of necessity this summer, but the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is physically comparable to Adrian Gonzalez and profiles as a third baseman. He projects as an average hitter with above-average raw power and shows a little more range than you'd expect from a below-average runner because of good baseball instincts. Despite recovering from a torn labrum, he also has an average arm. Over 156 at-bats, Casazza hit .256/.380/.506 for the Pirates this summer. He has an all-or-nothing approach; along with leading the league in home runs, he also led the league in strikeouts with 59. Casazza transferred to Division II Tarleton State (Texas) from Long Beach State, and he'll be an old junior next season, as he turns 22 on May 9.
10. Kyle Johnson, of, Wenatchee (So., Washington State)
Johnson's best tool is his speed—one coach called him the fastest player in the league. The speed helps Johnson both defensively, where he covers a lot of ground in the outfield, and on the basepaths. Though he's undersized at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Johnson has a short, compact swing from the right side of the plate. Over 162 at-bats, he hit .340/.403/.420 this summer for the AppleSox. He hit nine doubles, two triples and led the league with 18 stolen bases.